Developers unveil plans for Central Station hotel, movie theater

Central Station hotel, movie theater

A hotel, movie theater and restaurant are included in plans unveiled Friday to redevelop Central Station, a project that is expected to cost $52 million in private funds and $1 million to $3 million in public improvements.

Part of the Central Station proposal involves redeveloping the Power House (upper left) into a cinema. (renderings courtesy of Archie Willis III and Henry Turley)

The development team of Henry Turley and Archie Willis III presented the plans, which also include a market and new apartments, at a meeting with members of the Memphis Area Transportation Authority board.

The developers said the development at the site of the train passenger terminal will “transform Central Station into a kinetic, connected, central place, with an engaging Memphis pulse.”

The project, more than double the price tag of a $23 million renovation at the site 16 years ago, would fill in one of the last large, open parcels of land in the area and help connect the South Bluffs development to Main Street.

The five MATA board members at the Friday presentation voted unanimously to recommend approval of the concept to the full nine-member board, which meets April 27.

Jimmy Tashie, executive vice president of Malco Theatres, said construction of a five-screen Malco theater at the station could start sometime in 2015 or early 2016.

“A few things have to come together, and I think it will happen,” he said.

Turley said the hotel development is being planned with Kemmons Wilson Companies, through McLean Wilson, who is co-leader of the Crosstown development at the old Sears building at North Watkins and North Parkway.

The station’s initial redevelopment and reopening in 1999 fueled South Main’s continuing renaissance as an arts, retail and dining district.

The developers would coordinate with the Memphis Farmers Market, which is held next to the station from April to October, to minimize impact on the weekly event, Willis said.

“When we started this project there was a commitment on our part to keep the train museum (in the station) and keep the farmers market,” Willis said. “That’s the commitment we have.... Exactly where, how, we don’t know with the museum.”

The developers’ timeline shows hotel and apartment construction beginning in 2016. Willis said he hopes the hotel will be completed by August 2017, in time for Elvis Week, the annual commemoration of Elvis Presley’s death.

Ron Garrison, general manager of MATA, said the public cost of the project would be about $600,000 when grant money is factored in. “This is a wonderful opportunity to bring this part of the city new venues, quality of life,” Garrison said.

MATA would enter into a 69-year lease with the developer and share in generated revenue, according to the plan.


By Katie Fretland
Commercial Appeal